From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health

How to prevent and treat swimmer’s ear

Prisma Health Telehealth

Summer is a great time for fun in the water, unless you end up with swimmer’s ear, a common type of outer ear infection.
Prisma Health Nurse Practitioner Katie Schill said, “Despite its name, swimmer’s ear is not necessarily caused by swimming. It’s caused by any introduction of bacteria into the ear canal. This can happen by scratching the ear canal when removing wax or just scratching an itchy ear.”
To prevent swimmer’s ear, Katie offers this advice. 

  • Don’t swim in water with high bacteria levels. Lakes and ponds have the highest risk for causing an issue, because the water is sitting and is untreated. Local health departments have information on bacteria levels for public lakes.
  • After swimming or showering, try to dry your ears as much as possible.
  • DO NOT put anything in your ear, including cotton swabs. Wax is okay in the canal; it helps protect the ear.
Katie said, “Sometimes swimmer’s ear can cause foul smelling drainage, but not always.
If you start to have ear pain, especially if it worsens when touching the outside of your ear, and it does not clear after a day or two, seek care with primary care or same-day clinic.”

Same-Day Care

Prisma Health offers several same-day care options for minor illnesses such as UTIs. To learn more, visit